Submission to Parliamentary Committee – Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020

MESSAGE TO THE MEMBERSHIP FROM THE QUEENSLAND CHAPTER PRESIDENT

Dear colleagues,

Today, Jack Williamson LFRAIA and I attended a Queensland Parliamentary Committee hearing into the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Bill 2020.

The Bill was introduced to Queensland Parliament by the Hon. Mick de Brenni, Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport in February and was subsequently referred to the Transport and Public Works Committee for detailed consideration. The committee is required to report on this Bill by 20 March 2020.

The Parliamentary Committee is also considering proposed changes to the Architects Act 2002.

In the lead up to this hearing, Jack Williamson and Paul Jones RAIA did an excellent job of reviewing the proposed legislative amendments and considering its effect on members and the public. On behalf of you all, I thank Jack and Paul for their work on this important advocacy matter. The Institute has been following this issue for some time by the previous Chapter Council and the latest review of the Bill has been managed under the new Chapter Council.

As witnesses at the hearing, on behalf of the Institute, here are the broad matters that we raised. You can read our submission in full and view the proceedings of today’s hearing.

  • The Building Industry Fairness (BIF) legislation is aimed at ensuring security of payment for subcontractors, which includes architects.
  • In this current proposed amendment, changes have also been proposed to the Architects Act. This has been the focus of our commentary to the Committee, specifically seeking clarity around procedural fairness processes in both the Board of Architect’s dealings with architects and public interest protection
  • We also note that the proposed BIF legislation deals with Project Bank Accounts for both public works and private projects. In its original iteration, it was likely that architects would have to set up and manage Project Bank Accounts in certain circumstances. Whilst this is looking less likely in the current version of the legislation, some situations (i.e. the architect with subconsultants) remain unclear. The architect as ‘superintendent’ will carry statutory responsibilities for payments and may be levied with significant fines if certain payments are not made.

When the final legislation is passed the Institute’s Queensland Chapter will be monitoring this and we will seek to further inform members of their responsibilities, including looking at potential scenarios where (unintended) legal responsibilities fall on the architect.

In addition to the points made below we answered questions regarding:

  • The proposed changes to the Architects Act in relation to how engineers and others are treated (procedural fairness)
  • The potential effect (increase) on architects’ insurance premiums with regards to recent events e.g. flammable claddings and structural failures and defects in residential high-rise construction. This was a question on notice, and we are working to provide the Committee with details by 9 March 2020
  • The potential for a role for architects (and other responsible parties) in minimising risk for clients and the public by instituting a statutory role during construction (administration of quality and contractual matters during construction).  We noted that this may also better support the role of the building surveyor.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at qldpresident@architecture.com.au if you have any questions or comments on this matter.

I look forward to providing you with updates on this issue as information comes to hand.

Best regards,

Michael Lavery FRAIA